But it’s even worse for summer born children from poor or socially disadvantaged backgrounds, and for children from homes with English as a second language.
Millions of pounds have been spent on government attempts to close the educational attainment gap between the richest and poorest in our society, only for the DfE to rubber stamp a postcode lottery admissions process for summer born children that pits parents against schools and LEAs in which only the luckiest and/or most articulate and educated parents have a chance of winning the battle. Here’s why:
* Most parents don’t even know what compulsory school age is (in fact many head teachers and teachers don’t know the legal definition either) or that Reception class at age 5 is even a viable option.
* Even those who do know are too fearful of the repercussions in the long-term (being made to skip a year of primary or secondary school later on).
*Many parents don’t know about the evidence on the challenges for summer born children, much less all the legislation that relates to their own child’s education, both of which they would need knowledge of to stand a fighting chance.
*For parents struggling financially, they may be relying on school entry at the earliest possible time to reduce their childcare costs. Even with the 15 hours of pre-school funding still available until CSA, it is cheaper for their child to be in school full-time. They may be unable to afford to give their child the same opportunity as another summer born child.
*Parents from overseas may have language barriers or may not know what their rights are or who they need to speak to; their children may have started school at a different age in their home country but then the ‘system’ in England forces them to join their ‘correct’ chronological year group and miss a year of school.
From Bad to Worse
Summer born children have always statistically faired less well in numerous measures, but now, going forward, with just SOME parental requests for a Reception class start at CSA being agreed to, but not all, the gap for those children whose parents are told, “No” will be even wider than ever before.
On a national level, there will be more ‘older’ children in their year than previously – because of summer born contemporaries who were allowed to start school at age 5.
English schools will consist of a mixed bag of children who were granted the right to fulfil their potential and ‘thrive’ instead of ‘cope’ at school, and those who weren’t. And just consider which parents of summer born children are more likely to be able to afford them the greatest opportunities…
The current Code is a (further) summer born disaster waiting to happen with the most vulnerable children in our society bearing the brunt of it… and it just doesn’t have to be that way. It really doesn’t.
The Code’s 2014 commencement is currently “subject to parliamentary scrutiny” – we can only hope it really is scrutinised.